Kaleigh Ronan decided to become an actress in second grade when she played Glinda, the good witch, in a school production of The Wizard of Oz.
Since then the talented teen, a junior at Tyngsboro High School, has set her sights on performing and never looked back.
"I just fell in love with it and knew that I wanted to do theater," she said.
This month, she gets a big break, performing as one of the leads in the Boston Children's Theatre world premiere production of The Homework Machine. Performances are April 19, 20, 23, 24, 26 and 27 at the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston.
Based on the popular children's book by Dan Gutman, the musical features music by Tony Award-nominated composer Keith Hermann and book and lyrics by writer Mark Cabaniss.
The plot involves four fifth-graders who create a machine named Belch to do their homework and what happens as Belch threatens to take over not only their schoolwork, but their lives.
"My character Judy is the teacher's pet and I bond with the other kids, including a nerd, a slacker and the class clown, over homework," she said.
Ronan has won awards for her work, including Best Child Actress from the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theaters for her portrayal of Amarylis in The Music Man for Theatre III in Acton. She has had many starring roles in high school productions, including Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
But this marks her first world premiere.
"The rehearsals are so much fun and it is awesome to be working with the composer and the playwright. I love it," she said.
Ronan has her sights set on a career in musical theater and already has several schools in mind to apply to after she graduates in 2015.
But for the next few weeks, she's Judy, a fifth-grader, who along with her friends is dealing with the overly powerful Belch, in The Homework Machine.
Tickets are $25 and available at bostonchildrenstheatre.org or call 617-933-8600 for details. School groups can reserve tickets for weekday performances by calling the BCT Box Office.
On the marquee
- FEEL-GOOD MUSICAL: Student thespians at Lowell High School bring the high-spirited musical Hairspray to life on Friday-Saturday, April 11-12, at 7 p.m. in the Cyrus W. Irish Auditorium located in the high school, with an entrance on Father Morrissette Blvd., downtown Lowell. Based on the 1988 John Waters' film, Hairspray includes 1960s-style dance music and rhythm and blues. It tells the story of spunky Tracy Turnblad, a 1962 Baltimore teen, who dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show and her celebrity-status when she does. It also delves into issues of the day, including integration and is a light-hearted, yet powerful social commentary on the 1960s. Tricia Neary directs, Andy Descoteaux is musical director and Rosie Bubanas is choreographer. Tickets $10, adults; $5, students with IDs.
- SPRING TREAT: Theatre III takes audiences on a springtime trip to the South of France in its production of A Night in Provence by Robin Hawdon. The romantic comedy, featuring Larry Lickteig, Alison Jeanne O'Dwyer, Mike Lague, Stacy Kernweis, Bill Hoermann and Victoria Powell, plays the 250 Central St., West Acton playhouse April 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26 at 8 p.m. Call 978-263-9070 or visit theatre3.org for tickets.
- MAHLER (AND MORE): The Orchestra of Indian Hill, under conductor Bruce Hangen, performs a concert featuring composer Gustav Mahler's First Symphony, along with works by Rimsky-Korsakov and Gershwin. It takes place Saturday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Littleton High School, 56 King St., Littleton. The special guest soloist is Anshuman Das of Bedford, winner of Indian Hill Music School's 2014 Student Concerto Competition. $20-$50 ($15/students) at 978-486-9524, ext. 116 or indianhillmusic.org.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.